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The Almighty Buck Politics

Lessig Launches a Super PAC To End All Super PACs 465

An anonymous reader writes "Lawrence Lessig has announced plans to kickstart a SuperPAC big enough to make it possible to win a Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. From the article: 'If you can’t beat them, join them. Then take them down from the inside. That’s the basic idea behind a super PAC launching Thursday that wants to destroy super PACs for good. The Mayday PAC, as it’s called, seeks to raise enough money to sway five House elections in 2014 and elect representatives who have committed to pressing for serious reform of the campaign finance system. If that endeavor—a sort of test case—is successful, the PAC will then try to raise an enormous amount of money for the 2016 cycle—enough, PAC organizers hope, to buy Congress."
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Lessig Launches a Super PAC To End All Super PACs

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  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:18PM (#46895049)

    PAC is short for Political Action Committee and it is a way of buying politicians. What is boils down to is a way for many people to combine their political contributions into one entity. (sarc) If the PAC supports your issues then that's ok. (/sarc)

  • by Delarth799 ( 1839672 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:19PM (#46895063)
    That's exactly what it is. It stands for Political Action Committee and large corporations can donate to PACs or super-PACs, allowing them to get around contribution limits, which then turn around and use that money to buy millions of dollars in advertising to destroy or help someone during election time. We aren't allowed to call it bribery because money has been ruled to be free speech but it is basically used to by corporations to buy politicians or punish those working against them.
  • by MayOne.US ( 3638889 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @08:01PM (#46895441)
    This is the only issue that the PAC will press for.

    And indeed, you can direct your pledge to be used only to support members of one political party if you wish. We don't get as granular as issue-by-issue, but when you pledge, there is a targeting dropdown menu. That targeting dropdown menu allows you to choose from { Whatever Helps, Democrats Only, Republicans Only }

    If you pledge your money to Republicans only, it is statistically very unlikely that they would be for gun control.

    I don't agree with Prof. Lessig on all the issues either, but that's the point. No matter what side of the debate you fall upon, you have to make sure that this issue is fixed first, otherwise the decisions made will be those that are in the funders' best interests, not the peoples' best interest.

    — Brian Boyko
    —CTO, MayDay.US
  • It was (Score:4, Informative)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @08:45PM (#46895739)
    sorta. Go read "A people's History of the United States". Education in America was meant to get Farm hands used to working in factories. That's why they have bells and drills. The Farm Hands kept wandering off the factory floor. They needed to be trained.

    That said, a well educated populace can and will learn to think for itself. It's a by product of the education process. You can't really have one without the other, and China's starting to have problems with their middle class as a result...
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Thursday May 01, 2014 @09:02PM (#46895875) Homepage Journal

    Professor Lessig started in copyright. After his defeat in Eldred v. Ashcroft, he traced the blame for the copyright expansions of the 105th Congress (No Electronic Theft Act, Copyright Term Extension Act, and Digital Millennium Copyright Act) back to the source, and the source ended up being politicians who listen to Hollywood and other special interests over their individual constituents. This lead to Change Congress, which became Fix Congress First, which became Rootstrikers [wikipedia.org]. The $100+ that I'd give to Lessig's organization is $100+ that I would have otherwise spent on something that's illegal to produce solely because of these expansions of copyright.

  • You're in luck! (Score:5, Informative)

    by danaris ( 525051 ) <danaris@nosPAM.mac.com> on Thursday May 01, 2014 @09:04PM (#46895883) Homepage

    What would be cool is if this super PAC returned everyone's money if they don't raise the critical mass of dollars to make a difference. Ultimately that's my main worry. I'd rather donate $1000 to a cause that would give me my money back if it failed to raise enough money to make a real difference, than donate $10 that was gone forever regardless of whether it is used effectively.

    Wasting my already-spent mod points by posting, but I think it's worth it:

    That's exactly what they're doing. If you look at their FAQ [mayone.us], the second section explains that they will set certain funding targets, people will "pledge" their contributions, and only if they meet their total pledge target will any money actually change hands. Just like Kickstarter.

    I've already pledged $20, and I wish I could give more, but our financial situation isn't super-stable at present :-/ I think what Lessig is doing is probably about the most important political action of our time.

    Dan Aris

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @11:20PM (#46896551)

    This is part of why everyone, not just the really rich, pays taxes because it adds up to a large amount.

    So for political spending as a simple example: Suppose Bill Gates put every bit of his wealth, about $76 billion, towards a PAC. Unbeatable right? Not hardly. If each person over 18 gave $320 dollars, they'd outspend him handily.

    Now of course it is ridiculous to think that every eligible voter would give that much but it is equally ridiculous to talk about someone spending that amount of money. The point is that even for ridiculous sums, numbers still favour the population.

    A more realistic example would be that Romney's campaign cost about $850 million dollars (the most expensive ever). Crunch the numbers and you'd need half of voters to give $7 average to match that. So literally if you could get half of people to give $10, you'd crush the amount spent on the most expensive campaign ever.

    People also seem to forget that the rich didn't become, or stay, rich by spending all their money. Ya, they may be willing to kick in a lot, by a normal person's standard, to an election, but it is still only a small fraction of their wealth. Blowing a significant portion of their wealth on an election would be monumentally stupid.

    It really IS doable. What's more, politicians really DO care more about a large number of people voting one way than all the contributions in the world because if they get voted out, well the gravy train stops. So doesn't matter how much money they are offered, if their constituents say "Do this or you are out," and mean it, they are extremely likely to do it.

    People in the US do have the ultimate power, they just doesn't exercise it effectively.

  • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:20AM (#46896737)

    Do you think members of the US military will follow orders to shoot their countrymen?

    Yes. [wikipedia.org]

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @12:30AM (#46896791)

    > You are basically advocating violent overthrown of the government, a.k.a. treason -

    You do realize that Jefferson said this right?

      "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Which was interpreted to mean a revolution every generation:

      "God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion"

    Here is the full context:

    "I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America. There are very good articles in it: and very bad. I do not know which preponderate. What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a Chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: and what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life. Wonderful is the effect of impudent and persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion.[1] The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted."

    [1] This sentence has possibly been misquoted as "every generation needs a new revolution."

    * http://wiki.monticello.org/med... [monticello.org]

  • by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @02:55AM (#46897217)

    Here's a list of the biggest donors over the past 25 years: https://www.opensecrets.org/or... [opensecrets.org] The top group did support democrats (at $100 million). The second highest also went mostly to Democrats (at $61 million, and it wasn't entirely to democrats - 81% to Democrats, 19% to Republicans). Those numbers are the TOTAL donations over the past 25 years. Keep those numbers in mind for context. What about Republican donors?

    "this list does not include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife Miriam donated nearly $93 million in 2012 alone to conservative super PACs — enough to put him at No. 2 on this list."
    In other words, Sheldon Adelson *alone* has almost topped the highest donation to democrats, and he almost did that in a single election.

    How about the Koch brothers? "They have donated more than $196 million to dozens of free-market and advocacy organizations." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]
  • The sheer stupidity in that statement may overwhelm everything else you've said so far. Benefiting society (the citizenry, collectively) is exactly the opposite of a zero-sum game. "Live in liberty to pursue their happiness" sounds real good until you come down with cancer, can barely afford treatment, and are left with the liberty of pursuing your happiness while lying in a ditch because you sold your house trying to stay alive. It's left to somebody to haul away your corpse when you die (what, you didn't expect the government to do it, did you? That's no part of defending people's rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness...) All your future contributions to society die with you. Even if you manage to get back on your feet, you've wasted years of productivity and probably permanently harmed your health.

    Or you could live in a society where the government actually looks after its people. Yeah, you'll earn a bit less money because the government takes some to pay for all those lazy freeloaders getting expensive medical treatments, but you won't go broke trying to survive when you (or your kid, or your parent...) find yourself in the hospital. Instead, society will support you too, and when you're back on your feet you'll still be financially stable and able to resume contributing to society. Your *personal* contributions to this pool may never amount to what your treatment cost (in which case you, personally, came out ahead) or they might (if, say, you go on to develop something really significant), but society will still be better off in the long run than if they let you lie there in that ditch.

    It costs less to provide housing to the chronically homeless than it costs the city to deal with the expenses of them living on the street, did you know that?

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.